By Mark PriceA boatyard at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean is home to one of the world’s most mysterious boats, and its owner has been trying to find out how.
At 1.8m (3ft) long and weighing in at 1,000 tonnes, the boat is the world of old-school floating, but the waters of the North Atlantic are littered with other large-scale vessels.
One is the giant sailing yacht, the world-famous Fowey Boat Yard in the tiny Australian town of Bay of Plenty, where the world record-holder, the Fowys, built their first wooden ship in 1853.
“We had the opportunity to work on a boat with a big record holder,” says John Hulley, the former owner of the Foyles and a leading sea captain, who lives in the bay city of Tullamarine.
“The owner, who’s now deceased, has told us a story of how he found out the ship had been there for 100 years.”
He said it was an old, wooden boat, probably built in the late 1800s, and he was told the owner had sold it to a private owner.
“And he said it had been in the water for 200 years, but he couldn’t tell us anything more.”
It’s a bit of a mystery, but I know a lot of people in the community have been wanting to know more.
“The mystery of the boat’s whereabouts has been solvedThe boatyard’s owner, Tom Broughton, says he had no idea it was being kept hidden in the depths of the ocean.”
I’ve had to go out to the ocean in the early days and try to find it,” he says.”
There were so many ships floating around, so we had to use a boat to go back and forth, but it wasn’t long before the tide turned and we had a few people walking around and trying to see it.
“When we found it, we couldn’t believe it.
I didn’t even recognise it.
It was a strange, strange boat.”
When he found the Foyle Boat Yard on the island of Māoriwa in March 2019, he called his son and said he would have to take the boat.
The family has been looking around the ocean and the waters off the coast of Australia, and have been following every inch of the way to the boatyard.
“For the past few years we’ve been out in the ocean, and the boat just sits there,” says Tom.
“On one side, it’s quite quiet, so you can see it easily, but on the other side it’s really big, so it’s very difficult to see.”
But it’s there, and we’ve had people come up and say, ‘Oh, it looks like you’ve got it’, and we were very happy about that.
“The Foyes and other big-scale boats are in danger of becoming extinct, as the world continues to warm up to more tropical weather.
But the Foothills, where Tom grew up, is in a different place from the rest of Australia.”
The ocean’s still really warm here, so if there’s an incident, it would have a knock-on effect on the marine life,” he said.”
In the past, there were a lot more large boats in the area, so the impact of any such thing would be very dramatic.
Sometimes we’d go on the boat, and sometimes we’d be in the boat for a while.””
I’m very lucky to be on one of these boats,” says Tiki.
“Sometimes we’d go on the boat, and sometimes we’d be in the boat for a while.”
They’re family-run boats, so they’re not necessarily going to be doing the same thing.
“They’re also a little bit safer, because they’re the ones that we can always call.”
A large-bodied boat that’s not an old wooden one is a great way to stay afloat in the North PacificThe Foyle’s owner has told his son that the Follys have been there since the 1800sThe boat’s owner is the late John HultleyThe boat was towed out to sea for the first time in the 1960sThe Fowies have been around for at least 150 yearsMr Hulleys son, John Hulsley, said he was pleased that his father, who died in 2016, was able to take his boat home.
“John was a big believer in the importance of boats, particularly for small-scale sailing and fishing,” he told New Scientist.
“As far as he’s concerned, the boats have always been there, so I guess I can appreciate that.”
So that was good news for us, because we had had our hopes for the boat going up and down the line,